East Lothian Council Cabinet members approved a decision for the council to acquire 28 new council homes for social rent and to progress with proposals to deliver 36 homes for mid market rent (MMR) in the Hallhill North development in Dunbar.
This site is part of a wider development which will be delivered by Taylor Wimpey, which includes a planning agreement with East Lothian Council to provide 64 much-needed affordable homes.
The paper was heard in private at the Cabinet meeting this week because of some commercially sensitive information in the report.
The intention is that 36 MMR properties will be delivered by a private investor and leased to East Lothian’s Mid Market Homes (ELMMH) to manage and maintain. These new homes will be available to qualifying tenants at a rent below market rents. The remaining 28 properties will be delivered by Taylor Wimpey and will provide much needed council homes for rent, funded from the council’s housing capital budget with Scottish Government grant support.
Cabinet Spokesperson for Housing and Property Maintenance, Councillor Andy Forrest, welcomed the decision: “East Lothian is the second fastest growing local authority area in Scotland. Our housing need is extremely pressured, with a growing list of applicants currently sitting at over 4,000. Meanwhile, house prices continue to rise, private rents are high and we have high levels of homelessness as well as the effects of the pandemic, the rising cost of living and the increasing financial pressures on the council impacting on our investment programmes. As a result of these housing pressures and financial constraints, it is essential that we support innovative initiatives that help increase the supply of affordable housing and that is what Cabinet colleagues have done.”
East Lothian Mid Market Homes LLP was created as a partnership vehicle between the council and Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) in 2019. This model provided an innovative delivery and funding mechanism that has allowed new affordable homes to be delivered through a private sector funding solution resulting in no capital funding from the public purse.
This model means that:
- The private sector takes responsibility for delivering the units
- The council receives revenue for the right to market, let, manage and maintain the houses
- The council lets to qualifying residents at agreed affordable rents
- Local residents get new, high quality homes at affordable rents in a good location with good links to schools and amenities
- There is no reliance on grant funding
- The council can accelerate its programme for much needed projects where no alternative funding solutions exist
- This new opportunity to provide an additional 36 units for mid-market rent will help to increase ELMMH’s property portfolio, increasing the choice of affordable tenure and contributing to the council’s place-making ambitions.
The demand for this tenure has exceeded all expectations and continues to increase, with high demand for quality rented accommodation for working people, with an additional positive impact for some homeless clients.
Cabinet members noted the success of the MMR programme to date in agreeing this next step forward to deliver a mix of affordable tenures at the Dunbar development.